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Postcards from Erica May 2023

Trying to find unaccompanied cello music by Hispanic and Latino/Latina composers? Look no further. I created my online “just-the-facts-ma’am”-style digital postcards to introduce listeners to new-to-you cello music and to help cellists, orchestra directors, cello teachers, and students seeking new repertoire, contest pieces, and supplemental literature.

Postcards from Erica May 2023

This month I’m sending you the third installment in my new series of postcards on unaccompanied works for cello by Hispanic and Latino/Latina composers. Miss the first two installments? Never fear – you can find them here.

These monthly postcards give you the information you need to help you choose a piece that’s right for you. I also include links to make it easy for you to locate and purchase the sheet music you want. I hope you enjoy exploring these pieces as much as I did selecting them.

Click here for a quick round-up of my postcards featuring works by Black composers, here for my works featuring women composers, or revisit all of my postcards.

May Postcard #1: Suite No. 3

Composer Aleh Ferreira was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and is a self-taught expert in classical composition. His style tends towards tonals and is highly focused on  melody. In his words, his pieces “have to touch human soul. The melodies flow naturally in my mind and they are always romantic.” From a young age, Ferreira was drawn to string instruments, progressing from guitar to mandolin. Given his Brazilian heritage, his music has been heavily influenced by Choro, Samba, and Bossa Nova.

  • Title: Suite No. 3
  • Composer: Aleh Ferreira
  • Year Composed: 1997
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 5
  • Duration of Work: 2:42, 4:36, 4:17, 2:46, 3:37
  • Number of Measures: 46, 39 (without repeat and D.C.), 50 (without repeat and D.C.), 40, 45
  • Number of Pages: 6
  • Tempo: quarter = 90, quarter = 60, quarter = 80, quarter = 65, quarter = 60 & 90
  • Difficulty Level: intermediate
  • Highest Position Reached: 6th, 5th and low thumb position, 4th, 3rd, 4th
  • Technique Employed: 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/5, and 5/4 time signatures; bass clef; double and triple stops
  • Publisher: Aleh Ferreira
  • Where to Purchase: Sheet Music Plus
Product Cover
look inside
Suite No 3 for Cello Solo
Composed by Aleh Ferreira. 20th Century, Contemporary, Latin. Individual part. 8 pages. Aleh Ferreira #4345827. Published by Aleh Ferreira (A0.984633).
  •  Cost of Sheet Music*: $3.99 (digital download)



Brazilian musician Aleh Ferreira has written seven suites for unaccompanied cello. In 2018, cellist Júlio Ortiz recorded Suite No. 1 (the Irreverent), Suite No. 3 (the Beautiful), Suite No. 6 (the Romantic), and Suite No. 7 (the Effusive), for the Moderato label.


I was delighted to discover the seven suites for unaccompanied cello by Aleh Ferreira. Fortunately, the scores for all but the fifth suite are available for digital download on Sheet Music Plus.

Invariably, any unaccompanied suites for cello will be compared to the Bach Suites. However, unlike the Bach Suites, Ferreira’s five-movement Suite No.3 in g minor does not incorporate dance forms.

  • The Moderato has numerous accidentals and plenty of opportunity for cross-string practice in the second and fourth positions.
  • While the second movement is rather simple, there are two spots where octaves necessitate the use of low thumb position.
  • The Maestoso alternates between 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4 time signatures. Additionally, the opening and concluding sections are written in sixteenth notes, while the middle is notated in quarter and eighth notes, requiring the player to maintain a good pulse.
  • The fourth movement opens as an Andante, but quickly transitions to a Moderato. This movement is definitely more technically challenging than its predecessors.
  • The final movement has many easy first-position double stops as well as two bars of trills. One beat is missing in one of the bars, but the player can easily insert a note that sounds correct.

All of the movements are written in the Baroque style and can be performed independently.

May Postcard #2: Homenatge à Pau Casals

This innovative tribute to Casals comes from a fellow Catalan: composer Elisenda Fábregas. As a concert pianist, Fábregas performed across Europe and the U.S.; she draws on her broad performance experience and comprehensive education to compose an array of pieces ranging from solo instruments through ensembles and symphonic orchestras. This particular composition transforms a well-known melody in unexpected ways, exemplifying the ways in which music builds on tradition while evolving with each generation. (Note: This postcard first appeared in December 2021.)


  • Title: Homenatge à Pau Casals
  • Composer: Elisenda Fábregas
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Year Composed: 2015 (ed. 2019)
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 7:40
  • Number of Measures: 144
  • Number of Pages: 5
  • Tempo: quarter = 55-70
  • Difficulty Level: advanced/professional
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Techniques Employed: 3/8, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 time signatures; bass, tenor, treble clefs; double, triple, quadruple stops; pizzicato, left-hand pizzicato; triplets, quintuplets, sextuplets; glissandos; grace notes; harmonics
  • Publisher: Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag
  • Where to Purchase Score:
  • Cost of Score: $15*



“Homenatge à Pau Casals” (Homage to Pau Casals), was commissioned by American cellist David James Kim, in occasion of its premiere at the ‘Mas i Mas Festival’ in Barcelona on August 7, 2015. In this solo cello work, I pay homage to Catalan cellist Pau Casals by using ‘El cant dels ocells’ (The song of the birds), an original traditional Catalan Christmas song popularized by Pau Casals himself that became internationally known as a symbol of peace and freedom. Throughout this homage, I use the beginning ascending scale of Cant dels ocells as a recurring motive embedded in the melodic structure. The tune in its entirety does not appear until the end as a symbol of hope for the future. – Elisenda Fábregas


Though this work incorporates notes from Song of the Birds, the fragments are small, and the listener may not recognize the theme until the very end of the piece.

For much of the composition, Fábregas alternates between treble and low bass clef, as if there is a dialogue between the instrument’s high and low registers. Her liberal use of double stops makes “Homenatge” a bit of a challenge to learn but well worth the work. As the piece jumps around the instrument, the player would greatly benefit from a solid knowledge of the fingerboard.

May Postcard #3: Flamenco, Op. 4

Spanish composer Rafael Díaz is a native of Málaga, Spain, where he studied piano and clarinet. Later, in Seville, he studied composition with Manuel Castillo and orchestra conducting with Manuel Galduf. His interests range from ballet to electroacoustic works, and he has published score books and recorded several CDs. He is the founder of the “Taller de Música Contemporánea de la Universidad de Málaga” (The Malaga University Contemporary Music Workshop); his compositions have been performed across Europe as well as Latin and South America.

    • Title: Flamenco, Op. 4
    • Composer: Rafael Diaz
    • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
    • Year Composed: 2013
    • Movements: 1
    • Duration of Work: 8’
    • Number of Measures: 236
    • Number of Pages: 12
    • Tempo: dotted quarter = 80, quarter = 80
    • Difficulty Level: advanced/professional
    • Highest Position Reached: 6th
    • Technique Employed: 6/8 and 3/4 time signatures; bass and trebles clefs; snapping with the left hand, stomping the ground, col legno battuto, bow battuto (with the hair), regular and irregular tremolo, circular bowing, molto vibrato, sordino, harmonics, false harmonics, trills, 1/4 tone glissandos, glissandos, ponticello, pizzicato, left-hand pizzicato, triplets, quintuplets
    • Publisher: Rafael Diaz
    • Where to Purchase: IMSLP
    • Cost of Sheet Music*: Free



Before perusing the score, definitely listen to the recording so that you are not tempted to throw in the towel! This highly unique piece explores the wide variety of timbers the cello is capable of producing. Fortunately, Diaz provides detailed performance instructions (in both Spanish and English) to navigate the score.

While there are no rapid left hand passages, there are plenty of physically challenging maneuvers in this work. Simultaneously playing false harmonics and solid notes or executing left-hand pizzicato while playing battuto is not a skill set that most of us have. For the most part, switching rapidly between effects poses the biggest challenge in this work.

Even if you don’t have time to delve into this work at the moment, definitely print it out and add it to your collection. Flamenco would definitely be a good choice for the last number on a recital.

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